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    10 Jul, 2021

    Major milestones achieved in SADC regional integration, economic, social and political developments

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has achieved major milestones and achievements in regional integration, economic, social and political developments since its formation in 1980.

    SADC’s major milestones and achievements are chronicled in the publication, 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration. The publication, which was launched in Maputo, Mozambique, on 23rd June 2021 during the Extraordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, brings to light the history of SADC and key achievements that the Region has made since 1980. 

    Published by the SADC Secretariat in conjunction with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), 40 Years of SADC: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration highlights the major milestones and achievements as well as the challenges encountered by the regional bloc over the past 40 years. 

    Following the signing of the SADC Declaration and Treaty in 1992, the Region has shown commitment to deeper integration through the signature of 33 protocols as well as systematic strategic plans including the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP); Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (SIPO); SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 (SISR); and SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan RIDMP. These have laid a strong legal, institutional and strategic foundation for advancing regional cooperation. 

    SADC decided to frontload industrialisation in 2015, under the SISR, after reviewing previous efforts to increase intra-regional trade which were hampered by the little capacity in Member States to produce goods for competitive trade within and outside the Region. The strategy recognises the private sector as a major player in SADC industrialisation and regional integration. 

    The historic launch of the SADC Free Trade Area in 2008 brought a phased programme of tariff reductions and resulted in more than 85 percent of intra-regional trade among Member States attaining zero duty status. This has been complemented by efforts to open borders to citizens of fellow Member States in the spirit of promoting the free movement of goods and services, and facilitation of movement of persons within the region. 

    In 2019, the Region adopted the Simplified Trade Regime Framework which has contributed to trade facilitation. The approval of the Implementation Plan for the SADC Financial Inclusion Strategy and Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SME) Access to Finance in 2018 has expanded financial inclusion in the Region. Ten Member States have developed strategies or a national roadmap on financial inclusion aimed at empowering SMEs, youth and women to participate in economic activity, and there has been an improvement in financial inclusion among adults in the region, to 68 percent. 

    The SADC Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) multi-currency platform went live in October 2018 to facilitate faster and more efficient payment transactions in the Region. All Member States, except Comoros, are participating in the SADC-RTGS and a total of 85 banks (central banks and commercial banks) are also participating in the system. The SADC-RTGS has enabled Member States to settle payments among themselves in real-time, when previously it took several days to process cross-border transactions. 

    The establishment of the SADC Project Preparation and Development Facility (PPDF) became a reality in August 2008 following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the SADC Secretariat and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The SADC PPDF has supported nine projects to date, of which two are in the transport sector and seven in the energy sector. 

    The RIDMP was approved in 2012 and was informed by the understanding that infrastructure development and maintenance is a priority for accelerating regional economic integration and development. This includes the concept of One Stop Border Posts as a key element of the transport and logistics infrastructure to reduce transaction costs for crossing borders. 

    The SADC Pooled Procurement Services (SPPS) became a reality after an MOU was signed in 2018 for the pooled procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, hosted by the Medical Stores Department of the United Republic of Tanzania and is expected to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in the Region. 

    The adoption and institutionalisation of a standard, comprehensive package that addresses the unique challenges in providing equitable and effective HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, and provision of services to key and vulnerable populations within SADC has contributed greatly in curbing the spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS.

    SADC has taken a significant step towards the harmonisation of education across the Region by approving a Regional Qualifications Framework (SADCRQF) in 2017 that will facilitate the recognition of entry and exit qualifications in critical skills areas, marking easier access for learners and workers across the region.

    The Region has also made significant strides in gender equality and equity. The first SADC instrument toward gender equality following the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 was the SADC Gender Declaration approved in 1997 at the 17th SADC Summit in Blantyre, Malawi, acknowledging that gender equality is a fundamental human right demanding equal representation of women and men in decision-making and full access by women to, and control over, productive resources and formal employment. 

    An Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children was adopted in 1998. The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development was adopted in 2008, and amended in 2016 to align with international commitments. Most Member States have made notable progress in the participation and representation of women in political decision-making and economic development. .

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